A couple of weeks ago, I had to get a little, tiny procedure done. BUT you wouldn’t have known it was a little, tiny procedure if you would’ve seen me around that time. I was terrified. If this gives you any context, my parents once had to trick me with ice cream in order to make me get a shot. Anything medical-related is terrifying to me. It’s by far one of my weaknesses. I get overly fearful. But going into 2021, I designated the word “surrender” to be my word for the year. I’ve really grown on this idea of choosing a word for each year because it gives me an opportunity to grow in an area that needs growth. “Surrender” has such a powerful meaning, but the more and more I reflected on 2020, the more I realized that I really wasn’t putting that word into action. I wasn’t surrendering to God. I wasn’t surrendering being wrong in arguments. I wasn’t surrendering to what I needed for my health. So this tiny, little procedure was my first step towards surrender. I was surrendering to what my body needed, even though I was terrified. But let’s be honest, surrendering can be kind of terrifying, but that doesn’t make it any less worth it.
I’m just going to cut right to the chase. If you aren’t willing to surrender, you are going to struggle in many aspects of life. I want you to think of a time in your life where you held on to something. Maybe it was a grudge towards someone. Maybe it was fear. Maybe it was a very bad memory. Maybe it was regret. Whatever you may have been holding on to in that moment, it probably created a struggle within you. It probably consumed you. But that’s not surprising because that is what happens when we choose not to surrender.
I’ve always hated the phrase “God will only give you what you can handle”. Before everyone thinks I’m crazy and stops reading, let me explain. This phrase is assuming that we can take on anything that is given to us in life without God. It’s pretty much saying “If God has given it to you, you can handle it on your own”. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not true. As much as we’d love to think we can handle whatever life throws at us, it’s not true… without God. Surrender is NECESSARY for us to be able to handle life’s ups and downs. We have to surrender to what God has given to us in order that we are able to handle it. We cannot handle it all on our own. It will only lead us to a lonely dead end. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve ended up at that dead end more than once in my life. And it’s because I’ve tried to handle all of what life had thrown at me on my own. We’re not designed in that way. We aren’t made to do it all by ourselves. And that’s such a good thing. We have the opportunity to be dependent upon the Creator of the world. I think that’s pretty cool. So let’s start doing a little more surrendering to our God.
This idea of surrender brings me to a story in the Bible. It’s the story of Jacob and Esau. These were the sons of Isaac. If you haven’t heard the story, long-story-short, Jacob takes both Esau’s birthright and his blessing. Both of which are a huge deal. The birthright is a right to all the inheritance of one’s parents. It is always given to the first-born son, which was Esau. And a blessing from God is obviously important. And it’s very important to note the way that Jacob took Esau’s blessing. He was able to trick his father into giving him the blessing since his father was blind. He simply acted as if he was Esau. When Esau found out that Jacob had done this, he was enraged. And for fear of the wrath of Esau, Jacob ran. He left the situation and didn’t look back. However, years later, Esau was ready to make amends with his brother. When Esau saw Jacob again, he ran and embraced him with a hug. It’s as if he forgot about all the issues. He let go of them because he found his relationship with his brother to be more important. He surrendered his harsh feelings that he held towards his brother. Wow! Does that not just embody all of what it means to surrender? Jacob did terrible things to Esau, but Esau chose to surrender his grudge. If Esau would’ve hung on to all of that hatred, he would’ve been miserable. He would’ve been consumed in negativity. Surrender is a choice. I know it may be hard to think of surrendering a grudge you have towards someone. You may validate your decision to keep holding on to that grudge because of how they wronged you. But in the end, you are only doing more harm to yourself.
I’d like to share with you all a couple of ways that I feel surrender benefits us. First of all, as I said above, you are only doing more harm to yourself by holding on. So by surrendering, we are releasing tension. As people that are a part of this crazy world, I think we can all go for some tension releasing. So knowing that we could have so much more peace through surrendering, why don’t we do it?? Why don’t we just surrender everything? That’s because surrender usually presents itself as the hard path in two given paths. We can either not acknowledge our issues (easy path) or acknowledge them and give up our right to hold on to them (hard path). And as humans we don’t like to let go of our baggage. It makes us uncomfortable to think of letting it go. But when we surrender the temporary things that burden us, we are allowing our heart and mind to be free of a weight. I’ve had my fair share of people in life that I have let put a burden on my soul. I had so much baggage in those relationships that for years I carried on my shoulders. I told myself I wasn’t carrying all of the hurt and pain those relationships caused, but in reality, I was just trying to mask the fact that I wasn’t letting go. When I finally made the choice to surrender all the hurt, guilt, and pain, there was so much tension released in my being.
I’ve been taking vocal lessons for many years now, and through all my years, there is one thing that has remained consistent. I hate singing high. The idea of singing high has always freaked me out, and I’m not afraid to admit it. But the funny thing about this is that I’ve never been able to hide this dislike for singing high. If you look closely at me while singing high (I’m really exposing myself here), you’ll notice that I tense up REALLY BADLY. The other day in my vocal lesson, my vocal teacher caught me lifting/tensing my shoulders and called me out on it. I immediately realized he was right and tried to fix it. So then we took our next go at the same high part of the song. And then we stopped again because guess what I was doing? Tensing again. But we thought it was hilarious that instead of tensing in my shoulders, I moved it to another part of my body. While I was singing, he apparently noticed that a vein popped out in my neck which meant that I moved the tension right up to my neck. It’s insane the amount of ways I have found to build tension in my body while singing high.
But this is a perfect example of what we do in our own lives. Things make us uncomfortable, and instead of surrendering them to God, we find some place to store the tension. The thing about keeping this tension while I’m singing is that it never produces a good sound. Keeping tension within us never produces anything good. Think about getting anything medically done. They always tell you to quit tensing because that only makes the pain worse. Keeping negativity, worry, anxiety, fear, grudges, along with all the other things we build up within us, only makes things worse. In no way, shape or form will this tension solve anything. That’s why surrender is NECESSARY and will only benefit our lives. Surrender allows us to live our lives free of this tension. It allows us to be more loving and joyful in the lives God has given us.
Lastly, surrender enables us to grow. If you aren’t willing to surrender, you aren’t going to grow. A flower can’t grow without surrendering to the nature around it. The beautiful thing about flowers is that they weren’t designed to fight surrender, so they are a perfect example of how we should live. They are always allowing God to pour into their lives through sunlight and water. That’s how they live. They can’t live on their own. Their lives are completely dependent on God. The thing about flowers is that they are constantly allowing themselves to be taken care of. They don’t deny the necessities they need. We, unfortunately, aren’t naturally built like this. We let life get in the way of caring for ourselves. We say we have too much homework to read the Bible. We have too much work to give ourselves a break. We are too tired to enjoy life. We are constantly trying to meet unrealistic expectations. Sometimes that literally means that we don’t give ourselves enough food to eat. We work out too much or too little. We don’t give ourselves enough sleep because there’s too much to get done. We don’t allow ourselves to be the authentic individuals that we are. We don’t give ourselves permission to laugh and be joyful. We fight surrender.
When we don’t fight it, we’ll grow in more ways than one. By surrendering, we have given ourselves the opportunity to be more authentic in our faith, our relationships and in every other aspect of our lives. Surrender allows us to grow to be the person that God calls us to be.
Take this journey with me. Let’s choose surrender.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – Romans 12:1